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William Cowper

(26 November 1731 – 25 April 1800 / Hertfordshire)

William Cowper
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an English poet and hymnodist. One of the most popular poets of his time, Cowper changed the direction of 18th century nature poetry by writing of everyday life and scenes of the English countryside. In many ways, he was one of the forerunners of Romantic poetry. Samuel Taylor Coleridge called him "the best modern poet", whilst William Wordsworth particularly admired his poem Yardley-Oak. He was a nephew of the poet Judith Madan.

While Cowper found refuge in a fervent evangelical Christianity, the inspiration behind his much-loved hymns, he often experienced doubt and feared that he was doomed to eternal damnation. His religious sentiment and association with John Newton (who ... more »

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Quotations

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  • A fretful temper will divide
    The closest knot that may be tied,
    By ceaseless sharp corrosion;
    A temper passionate and fierce
    May suddenly your joys disperse
    At one i...
    William Cowper (1731-1800), British poet. "Friendship," (written 1781, published 1800).
  • ''His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding ev'ry hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow'r.''
    William Cowper (1731-1800), British poet. God moves in a mysterious way (l. 17-20). . . Seven Centuries of Poetry; Chaucer to Dylan Thomas. A. N. ...
  • ''John Gilpin was a citizen
    Of credit and renown,
    A train-band captain eke was he
    Of famous London town.''
    William Cowper (1731-1800), British poet. John Gilpin (l. 1-4). . . Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, The. Iona Opie and Peter Opie, eds. (1983) Oxf...
  • ''Now let us sing, Long live the king,
    And Gilpin long live he;
    And when he next doth ride abroad,
    May I be there to see!''
    William Cowper (1731-1800), British poet. John Gilpin (l. 249-252). . . Oxford Book of Narrative Verse, The. Iona Opie and Peter Opie, eds. (1983)...
  • ''Mr. Grenville squeezed me by the hand again, kissed the ladies, and withdrew. He kissed likewise the maid in the kitchen, and seemed upon the whole a most loving, kissing, kind-hearted gentleman.''
    William Cowper (1731-1800), British poet. Letter, March 29, 1874. Letters and Prose Writings of William Cowper, vol. 2, eds. J. King and C. Ryskamp (1...
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